Thoughts On The GOP Re-Branding


I’ve read a little bit more of the GOP’s post mortem that everybody’s been talking about. I agree with some of the conclusions. They do have an image problem. They weren’t able to come remotely close to matching President Obama and the Democrats’ technological dominance. They haven’t been able to properly convey to enough people that conservative policies are policies that help the most people regardless of race or class status. They should focus on the success of Republican governors at the state level. They should be active and present in all American communities, spreading a conservative message, even when it’s not election season.

On the other hand, I’m not confident that they’re going about things the right way. To listen to them, you’d think Mitt Romney lost the last election by a landslide. It was a pretty close race. If the Democrats’ policies were so popular, why didn’t Obama win by much larger margins? He did better in some areas, like my congressional district. But part of the problem here could be with the local Republicans. We have a RINO county executive who embraces Governor Andrew Cuomo and sold out the more conservative towns and villages with a new sales tax deal that only shares with the liberal city of Syracuse. Maybe voters around here have had enough of a party that kicks them in the teeth and decided to just sit it out. Who could blame them?

I’m also leery of all of the talk of demographics. Again, I have no problem with them reaching out to all communities, but it should be to explain how their policies are better than those of the Democrats. They should go out and be able to clearly explain how the Democrats’ policies have been disastrous. It’s not hard to do, the evidence is everywhere. They should constantly be hammering the Democrats on their failures, but all I’ve noticed from them are a few emails and web videos. And they can forget amnesty. That’s not going to win them any voters. The Democrats will have gained new voters, while the GOP will have disenfranchised their base.

Rush Limbaugh discussed all of this at great length this afternoon and brought up more points, including how the GOP has let themselves get backed into a corner by the Democrats and the media. (One and the same, I know.)

Here are a few key quotes from the first segment:

Look, I saw our convention.  Our convention, there was nothing exclusive. Our convention wasn’t filled with hate or mean-spiritedness or exclusiveness.  That convention was the American dream. That convention was story after story after story of the American dream being realized by people of so-called diversity.  If anything scared people about our convention it was the notion of hard work in the era of food stamps and unemployment compensation.  “See, that’s what we mean, Mr. Limbaugh, that’s the kind of exclusionary campaign.  You’re making fun -”  No, I’m not.  I’m just telling you the way it really is.  But I think this is a key point.

The Republicans are not mean people.  They may not be the brightest in the world in terms of how to — they’re just lacking confidence. They’re feeling very defensive and they believe this notion that somehow they are keeping people.  It’s not them.  So when Ari says we’re gonna have to explain ourselves in a way that doesn’t push people out, that says to people they’re not welcome.  We don’t do that.  But if these people end up thinking that the way they are and the way they’re talking — i.e., conservatism — is pushing people out, then they’re gonna really screw up, and they’re gonna start trying to sound like moderate Democrats, liberals, or whatever and really mess it up.  I think this is a key, key point.

He went on to explain how Republicans don’t need to abandon core conservative principles, but they do need to reshape their image.

The conventional wisdom in Washington: Republicans lost because they scare people, which is nothing more than accepting the premise of the left that the Republicans oppress people and deny them fun and freedom and the Democrat Party is there to save you and liberate you from tyranny of the mean old Republicans.  The point is the Republican battle has got to be to reshape what is thought about them, not who they are and what they’re saying.  It’s no more complicated than that.  They better not say they have to change themselves.  I’m talking about core principles here.  You’ve gotta change the perception of you.  For example, when Obama’s running ads claiming that you don’t like your dog, you put your dog on the roof. Run counter ads.

He even offered a helpful suggestion.

But when he says, “We gotta be conservative but not in a way that pushes people out,” who is? Who’s pushing people out? And don’t say me. Give me candidates. What Republicans are pushing people out? What, are you talking about Todd Akin? The Akin and Murdoch thing? Well, there’s no question that did push people away. Well, okay. Then I’ll tell you what we do. Set up an academy. You know what we do? I’ll run the thing. We set up an academy where newly elected or even nominated or candidates, young conservatives, show up and are taught how to avoid trap questions from the local media trying to screw ‘em.

In another segment he talked about how the Republicans are now worried about losing their donor base. I guess they should be, but the real problem is that they aren’t contrasting conservative principles with the obviously  disastrous policies of the progressive Democrats. They also have to stop letting the progressive Democrats define them.

I’m sorry, but we’re not disrespectful to anybody.  Look at what these focus groups have got these poor guys believing.  Look at this.  Our party’s narrow-minded.  I know it’s the impression, but it’s the why that people think that, that is the secret to rebutting this.  It’s not accepting that as true because it isn’t.  “But, Rush, perceptions are reality.  You’ve said it yourself.”  Well, that’s true, but out of touch, not out of touch.  We are in touch with the founding of this country.  We are in touch with the greatness of this country and its people.  Narrow-minded.  See, we oppress people.  We’re not open. We’re not tolerant, see.  We’re not inclusive.

So we gotta be more tolerant.  That means cash in our chips on our core principles.  We gotta be more inclusive, and he says he agrees with this.  We can be true to our principles without being disrespectful to those who don’t agree.  When are we disrespectful?  Was it us who ran ads accusing Obama of not caring if some guy’s wife died of cancer?  Was it us who ran ads about Obama not caring about his dog?  Was it us who ran ads accusing Obama of hiding money in the Caymans?  Was it us that did all this?  The Democrats get away with it.

Here’s my advice - get involved in your local Republican committee. I did, so I’m now in a position to offer my own suggestions at the local level. I don’t know if it will work, but at least I’ll have tried. Just think what we could accomplish if all of us conservatives did that rather than just complaining about the party to each other. (If you’re in New York and you think the GOP is a lost cause you can always work with the Conservative Party. They help to promote conservative Republican candidates and they have helped great conservatives like former Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle. They won’t hesitate to withhold their endorsement from RINOs, as they did with Dede Scozzafava.) If every local GOP committee in the United States was to be taken over by true conservatives, would the national party have to follow suit? If would seem so to me. But hey, that’s just me.

Update: Something else I was thinking of and forgot to mention - the party should really let the new young guns take the lead. The party should distance itself from the likes of John McCain and Lindsey Graham. I’m not saying because they are old, but because they are not true to conservative principles and are always willing to leap across the aisle in order to garner praise from the left wing media who would turn around and stab them in the back at a moment’s notice. Their brand of compromising on principle for a few minutes of praise is what’s old. You may not agree with Senator Rand Paul, say, on everything, but at least the man has principles and sticks by those principles. The same goes for Ted Cruz. Allen West could have used a whole lot more support in the last election, but the party didn’t do much for him and let him lose. Could they have helped Ann Marie Buerkle more in the race she lost to Dan Maffei? Probably. I could go on and on. There are a lot of solidly conservative Republicans that should be leading the way here. It’s time for the old guard to make way for the new guys (and gals) with a fresh perspective. Unfortunately, the people I’m thinking of are loathe to give up power.